Agnipath protests | Bharat Bandh today, security beefed up at Ludhiana railway station
Police are also questioning the accused to zero in on the mastermind behind Saturday’s vandalism at Ludhiana railway station during protests against the Centre’s Agnipath scheme
A day after around 70 anti-Agnipath protesters went on a rampage, vandalising property at the Ludhiana railway station, additional director general of police (ADGP) MF Farooqui on Sunday visited the station to take stock of the damages and security arrangements.
When asked about the security arrangements in view of the Bharat Bandh call by protesters on Monday, the ADGP said that apart from the major stations, special forces have been deployed at smaller railway stations too.
“We are working in full coordination with the Railway Protection Force and local administration. Together we will make sure that no one gets a chance to damage public property,” he added.
6 held for rioting sent to 2-day police remand
Meanwhile, the railway police on Sunday got two-day police remand of the six accused held for rioting and damaging public property during Saturday’s protest.
The Government Railway Police (GRP) had arrested six youths identified as Harmanpreet Singh and Manpreet Singh of Sarabha village in Ludhiana, Sukhprit Singh of Alamgir village, Ludhiana, Harmel Singh and Kuljit Singh of Moga and Kuljinder Singh of Rupnagar for rioting.
The railway police, while seeking custody of the accused, said they need to be questioned to ascertain the mastermind behind Saturday’s incident.
WhatsApp groups under scanner
Railway Police, along with other security agencies, including the central intelligence wing, are trying to identify the persons who provoked the protesters to resort to violence. According to sources, a few WhatsApp groups, named Indian Soldiers, Bharat Ki Fauj, etc had been found on the mobile phones of the accused.
“Each group had hundreds of members and messages to gather at Bharat Ratan Chowk in Ludhiana were circulated. A group was operated and headed by the owner of an academy which provides coaching to students aspiring for Armed Forces, in Jalalabad. We have zeroed in on a person named ‘Bhalu’ who had allegedly asked these protesters to reach here in Ludhiana,” revealed an investigating officer.
GRP ADGP said legal action will be taken against those found provoking these protesters.
The accused, in their statement to the police, claimed they were asked to gather at Bharat Ratan Chowk and not at the station but the mob eventually marched towards the station.
International numbers under scrutiny
According to sources, police have also found some suspicious international numbers which are being probed.
Ludhiana police, according to sources, rounded up around 10 persons on late Saturday evening on the basis of the revelations of the accused, and the data procured from their phones.
RPF registers FIR
After GRP, the Railway Protection Force has also registered a case against the accused under Sections 147 (punishment for rioting), 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 145 (continuation of unlawful assembly), 146 (rioting) and 144 (armed with deadly weapons) of the Indian Penal Code.
Trains cancelled, passengers hassled
Meanwhile after Ferozepur Division of Northern Railways cancelled 11 trains plying towards Bihar scheduled on Sunday, many passengers were seen returning from the Ludhiana station. The railway security forces also barricaded entry points of the station and didn’t allow any vehicle to get in.
The passengers were dropped and picked at the gate of the station for safety purpose.
As per the First Information Report, around 10:50 am, 70-80 youngsters, carrying iron rods and sticks, damaged glass panes at the entrance of Ludhiana railway station, burnt a hut and dumped furniture on railway tracks.